Diminutive Tai Bamhane, his ward was up against the Kerala duo of Priscilla Daniel and Sandra AS. And, from the distance, he only had to watch her body language when she entered the track. He need not have worried as Tai Bamhane a Warli tribal from western Maharashtra ran the two-lapper with the assurance and fearlessness of a seasoned runner.
The 15-year-old student of Marathi-medium Vidyaprabodhini Prashala (Nashik) stayed ahead of her rivals, both of whom had clocked faster times in the semifinals heats on Thursday, and won in 2:13.37. As Tai chugged home to gold, Vijender Singh broke into a smile. The tactics he had scripted had worked. Again.
For more than a decade and a half, Vijender Singh has been discovering, encouraging and guiding raw talent from the backwaters. He has been the guiding spirit for a number of athletes like marathoner Kavita Raut, distance runner Sanjivani Jadhav, Ranjit Patel, Kisan Tadvi and many more, working quietly at the grass-roots level to keep producing champions.
He added, Nashiks year-round climate and the fact that its nearly 700m above sea level helps the middle- and long-distance runners. Yes, the tough life that some of these girls are subject to because of their family backgrounds they carry 20 to 30 litres water on their heads for a good 15km also prepares them as strong athletes."
Vijender Singh says that it is a two-way street now, with athletes also seeking him out now. As many as 20 kids who are training with me are from outside Maharashtra," he said. We are drawing attention of corporates, too, but we are blessed that a whole bunch of doctors providing wonderful support to our athletes."
Working as a Sports Authority of India coach in the Bhonsala Military School since 1991, he has not left his penchant to travel long distances in search of talent from the ward level. One cannot rest just because one has trained athletes like Kavita and Sanjivani," he said while waiting for Tai Bamhane to complete the anti-doping formalities.
He narrated the story of Tai Bamhanes discovery, thanks to a cross-country race conducted by Kavita Raut. Born to farm labourers in Dalpatpur, Tai Bamhane used to win events in the village school but after winning the cross-country event, her schools physical education teacher suggested to her parents that she move to Nashik to train with Vijender Singh.
We do not know yet which event Tai will finish specialising in. I am a firm believer that advance specialisation in the early years of an athletes development is not right," he said, leading the four-foot nine-inch star away from the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)